L.L. Bean Recreates Old Catalog Covers as Modern-Day Photos

Part of company's 100th birthday celebration

When I learned that L.L. Bean hired photographer Randal Ford to recreate four of its old illustrated catalog covers as photographs for the Maine retailer's 100th birthday celebration, my initial reaction was: L.L. Bean still publishes catalogs? Indeed it does. The first photo is based on artwork from 1933, showing a grandpa-type and a young boy in a fishing scenario. Reboots of covers from 1956 and 1966, both depicting family scenes, are set to follow. The source material for the year-end holiday book hasn't been revealed. (Santa hunting reindeer in the woods? Surely they did that one at some point.) This is a solid concept that feels appropriate for a brand famous for its rugged gear that, in many ways, hasn't changed much in a century. The fusion of vintage and modern—combining items from Bean's archives with pieces in its current collection (and Gramps' waders from an eBay auction)—achieves a certain poignancy. My gripe is with the Photoshop-heavy note-for-note nature of the recreations. Why not tweak the basic concepts from the classic covers using contemporary-looking models and 2012 set-ups, crafting true reinterpretations instead of copies? The original images could run as gatefolds for contrast. That approach would strengthen the timelessness theme and suggest that the company's overall commitment to quality—epitomized by the seemingly indestructible Bean Boot itself—never wears out. Read more about the project here. Full size images after the jump. Via Laughing Squid.

@DaveGian davegia@hotmail.com David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.